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Cornwell, Beaver defense come through in OIBA win

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior Casey Cornwell threw a complete game, six-hitter against Sunset on Tuesday to help the Beavers win the first round OIBA contest, 2-1

Dating back to the spring, the bats haven’t always been there for Beaverton.

Low run totals and scarce hitting have cost the Beavers victories at times this summer.

But, when its back is against the wall as it was against Sunset in the first round of the OIBA state tournament, Beaverton’s fail-safe defense and pitching never seemed to flounder.

Getting a star-studded pitching effort from reigning Metro Player of the Year Casey Cornwell and sound resistance in the field, the Beavers worked out a seventh-inning, bases loaded jam to slip away from Sunset, 2-1 on Tuesday to advance to the second round of the OIBA tourney.

“We rely on our defense most,” said junior outfielder Sam Noyer. “And, once the bats get going to the level we expect, then we’ll be unstoppable. We have a good squad, and summer league is just preparing us for next year. We have a lot of guys returning next year, so as long as we keep working hard this offseason, we’re going to be a tough team to beat for sure.”

Arguably, Beaverton’ biggest defensive play of the game went down as an Apollo infield single in the scorebook, in the top of the seventh with Sunset’s Justin Taylor on second base, Scott Wright on first and two outs on the board. Trailing 2-1, Sunset’s Bryce Labatte blistered a Cornwell fastball down the third base line that looked bound for extra bases, and at the very least, a deadlocked contest.

However, Beaver third baseman Robby Valentine laid out for the ball and got enough of his mitt on the missile to halt its momentum from carrying deep into left. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior Joe Peterson threw six strong innings for the Apollos, allowing just four hits.

The Apollos loaded the bases, but Cornwell cajoled a groundout from Sunset’s Angel Manzanares to Beaverton sophomore shortstop Karac Leyva for the final out of the well-played, highly competitive game.

“We have a lot of guys who work hard all the time,” said Leyva. “They’re always working on baseball, working to get stronger. If we just keep that up, we’re going to be a hard team to beat.”

Cornwell — who played club baseball for most of the summer — seemed to have even more pop on his fastball that helped the rising senior lock up the Metro’s best hitters last year, striking out three Apollos while allowing six hits and one walk.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore shortstop Karac Leyva holds Sunsets Justin Silvey at second base in the sixth inning of the Beavers 2-1 OIBA win on Tuesday.

Sunset’s Joe Peterson was unflinching in facing Cornwell, matching the two-time, all-Metro selection doughnut for doughnut, throwing six strong innings, allowing four hits and a pair of earned runs. Yet, Cornwell was his usual, composed self after a couple months away from his squad.

“Casey is amazing,” said Noyer. “He doesn’t make a lot of errors. He can pitch really well, and he’s really consistent. I know he’s a big leader on this team and having someone who’s that consistent is nice to have.”

“(Cornwell) is always great,” said Leyva. “He plays well, pitches well. He’s such a huge competitor and leader on the team. He keeps us up and going. We’re never out of a game when he’s in the game.”

Noyer led off the bottom of the second inning with a triple that was ripped with such force it got stuck in the left field netting. Beaver outfielder Calvin Krech followed by hitting a tough chopper to Sunset’s Jason Dumont at second, who fielded the tricky hop, but threw high to the plate trying to nab Noyer at home. Noyer’s head-first slide gave Beaverton a 1-0 lead.

“I just had to start something off,” said Noyer. “(Peterson) threw me a cutter, and I just timed it up and hit it right. I did my job and got it going.”

Sunset evened the score in the top of the third after Dumont singled off Cornwell and came home on a two-out, hustling infield single by Apollo shortstop Justin Silvey, 1-1.

Valentine’s clutch, two-out single to center plated Kevin Watson — who doubled to left to begin the bottom of the third — and brought home the go-ahead run.



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